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and therefore, it will be understandable and even justified for the united states in the end to strike iran mill tailor. -- militarily. but we should have no illusions about the strategic consequences of an overt war with the islamic republic. in new overt use of u.s. force to disarm yet another middle eastern state of weapons of mass destruction that it does not have, while staying quiet about israel's 200-plus nuclear weapons arsenal, would elevate already high levels of
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anti-american sentiment in the middle east, threaten our remaining allies there, and render their cooperation with the united states practically impossible. and u.s. military action against the islamic republic would have no international legitimacy, no u.n. security council authorization, and no allies by israel, and maybe -- and i stress maybe -- the u.k., if you were reading the press this morning about their latest legal opinion. the larger part of the interpret community -- and remember, 120 of the u.n.'s 193-member states are part of the align movement, who voted to have the islamic republic as their chair, and they're already on record as saying they would consider an attack illegal, and that would ratify america's image as an outlaw superpower. this is really important today compared to even a few years ago.
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because a few years ago, the united states was still an unchallenged superpower. other countries mattered less. today they matter more, including iran's views. they matter more. and herein lies the real challenge nobody in washington has faced -- how do we work with, with an islamic republic of iran or even in egypt, for that matter, asking to promote its interests as it sees them as an independent country, not as many in washington wish it to be? thank you very much for your attention. >> thank you. our next speaker is the founder and president of the national iranian american council, niac,
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and that is a vocal proponent of dialogue and engagement between the u.s. and iran. and the doctor is the auth our of an award-winning book called "pressure alliance: the secret dealings of iran, israel, and the united states," published in 2007, and has a new book this year called "the single roll of the dice: obama's diplomacy with iran." , both from yale university press. i should say that all these panelists are also quoted in the major media frequently, so that's another thing. i don't mention about each one at a time, but all of them. >> thank you so much. it's a great pleasure being here. i think it's going to be quite an interesting q&a following this. i'm going to cut my talks a little bit short and just go on to some of the most important points and then leave as much as possible for a discussion
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afterwards. the panel asked what ways have the united states or the g-16 been able to get close to some of its objectives and have effective policies vis-a-vis iran. it's a good question, because it reminds us to ask ourselves, what are the objections? the objections that oftentimes are talked about tends to be microobjectives, very tactical, and we tend to forget the larger strategic picture. if we look at the larger strategic picture, making sure that iran does not get close to nuclear weapon capability, having a two-state solution that is feasible, to have stability in the region in the persian gulf. it's difficult to make the argument that over the last 10 years, we've gotten particularly closer to any one of those objectives. now, in the case of the united states and iran, rather than a conversation about what the balance is, who's winning right now, or losing right now, i would just make a presentation
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on why i think this problem that is, frankly, eminently resolvable has just become more and more difficult over the last couple of years, and i think it's largely because, from both sides, i'm simplifying a bit now, pursuing a perpetual policy of escalation, both sides have a policy in which the major component, the main central component, is on pressure. and by pursuing this pressure policy, there's this constant, endless search for a game changer, for something that enables one side to either force on to the other a deal that it otherwise would not accept, or, frankly, just make sure that the other side capitulates. and in this search for this game changer, what i think by now should be clear is that even though both sides at times have been quite successful in achieving something that has at least marginally changed the game and certainly put a lot of pressure on the other side, it
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is not translating that into a bargaining strength at the poker table and translate it into a type of deal that would be, nevertheless, would be quite attractive. every time either side has managed to score such a point, what has happened is that it has been struck by winner's curse. as one major effort starts to pay off, rather than going back and trying to see if we can get a better deal, both sides have become a little bit greedy and asked themselves, why don't we just do this a little bit longer and see what else we can get? we are facing that right now in washington, i would argue. there is a perception that these sanctions have been tremendously successful. i would definitely make the argument that they have put a tremendous amount of pain on the iranian side. the minute the story started to come out in the "new york times" and "washington post" that the iranian economy is indeed in great trouble, the goal post tended to shift a
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little bit. now it was no longer about getting them back to the table, but now more and more open question marks were raised about can the regime change? can we just have it all for a couple more months and see what else we can get? as that happened, the interest of the suffering party then decreases to engage in negotiations as well, because the negotiations then become a negotiation for the terms of its capitulation. and instead, they intensify their search for the next game changer, something that will once again be able to turn the table and find an exit way from the very precarious situation they're in right now. look what happened after the talks collapsed in 2010 and 2009. the iranians started enrichment at the 20% level. there were question marks, significant question marks on the western end, whether the iranians would actually succeed in doing this. they managed to do it. they imposed sanctions on the
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reignians, hoping that would change the nature of the relationship. it didn't. once we got to istanbul to noth, instead the iranians significantly increased their demand, putting preconditions for talks, saying essentially all sanctions need to be lifted in order to have any conversation about the nuclear issue. instead, the talks collapsed, we go back to the table, and then the west manages to get its game changer, which is through the help of saudi arabia, a lot of pressure on the europeans and others, all sanctions have been imposed on the iranians. economic pain is inflicted on them in a matter that has not happened for quite some time, and they truly are suffering in many different ways. at this moment, the question is, can this lead to a situation in which we can turn this into a negotiating benefit or whether we will once again perhaps become a bit too greedy and hope it can achee more? in the meantime, iranians will
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have the time to find a game changer. if you look at what is happening in the media right now, there seems to be an effort on the iranian side to hit back in a way that perhaps wasn't the case a year and a half ago, whether it is silent warfare against saudi arabia, flying drones over southern israel, or other things. we are not seeing any indications, not yet, and i would argue, as i will in a couple of seconds, that it's highly unlikely we will see a measure from the iranian side that would be anything resembling the type of a capitulation that i think increasingly seems to be demanded in washington. just keep in mind what came out in the "new york times" yesterday or today, that they are proceeding relatively fast to finish the plan. by that, they're getting closer and closer to the israeli red line, but they're not moving closer to the american red line. they're expanding their program, ex-as operating tension that is already exist between united states and israel, without doing anything
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that gives any excuse on the american side to say that they're getting closer to the americans. these are not the actions of an entity that seems to be just about to capitulate. now, for how long can the iranians tolerate this amount of economic pressure? things inside the country are becoming difficult, and main elements inside the country are suffering, the middle class, and the middle class tends not to be supportive of the regime in the first place. the regime itself has put in place several different programs to shift the pain of the economic mismanagement, as well as the sanctions to be borne by the middle class rather than by the lower classes. the lower classes helped to be the backbone of their support. some of the theories behind the idea that this type of pressure eventually will bring the iranians to a situation in which they will have to set less than that. it's summed up by saying the iranians don't cave under pressure, they only cave under
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immense pressure. the analogy is to point to what happened in 1989, when khomeini, after for years having said there would be war, war, war until victory, finally had to concede and accept the u.n. resolution that put an end to the war, something that he likened to drinking a cup of poison. so we to re-create that scenario in order to get the iranians to accept the demands. that is the proposition essentially, the theory behind it. now, beyond the moral questions of the collective punishment that the sanctions are being on to, a population in iran that made it quite clear that they would like to see a different political order, there are several differences between what we're seeing today and what existed in 1989 that i think renders it quite unlikely that this strategy will end up becoming the type a game changer that i think it is
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intended to be. 1989, when khomeini accepted drinking the cup of poison, he did so because he knew exactly what would happen if he did. i don't think that's clear at all. if the iranians were to capitulate right now, i don't think they have a clue of what it is that they would get or not get. in the conversation, there has been discussions that perhaps down the road maybe enrichment on iranian soil can be successful. perhaps at some point, we don't know when, some of the sanctions, not specifying which, could be lifted. without that type of clarity of what it is you would get if you would capitulate is not particularly rational to expect them to do so. secondly, to president obama's
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credit, he is no saddam hussein. that means when saddam hussein made a decision, you would either agree with it or you would die if you're inside the iraqi political establishment. saddam did not have to deal with a pesky congress, nor did he have to deal with an israeli prime minister. as a result, the iranians had confidence that saddam has the strength to be able to live up to his end of the bargain. that is not the perception that the iranians have, rightly or wrongly, about president obama. can president obama promise the lifting of sanctions, mindful of the fact that most of these sanctions that really are hurting the iranians have gone through congress and only can be lifted if there's a congressional decision? can anyone here remember last time congress lifted sanctions in a relatively swift manner? moreover, the principle that was steabled in the negotiations was the principle of reciprocity, the idea that any reversible concession from
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the western end had to be matched by a reversible concession from the iranian end. anything irreversible from the u.s. end has to be matched by irreversible concession from them. the conversations about sanctions that could be lifted, at least in the short run, have mostly centered around what sanctions waivers the president could use, which is then ultimately reversible. in fact, it would be probably have to be republican newed every six months or so, and then there would be a new president at some point in the united states, and there's no clarity or guarantee whatsoever that that president would respect the previous decision. these are some of the challenges in negotiations. if there is a window of opportunity, however, after november 7, up until the iranian new year, if president obama wins, there is going to be a window of opportunity to move very quickly for negotiations. in fact, one meeting has already been scheduled. this will be an opportune time,
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because it is right at a time in which obama's political capital will be at its maximum. the iranians will be right before entering their new year, and then after that their election season, which they would once again be politically paralyzed. and if that opportunity can be utilized, it will be very interesting to see, do both sides have the discipline? both sides claim they're winning and doing great. they all have their rhetoric and talking points as to why the a rain spring has been fantastic for them, but do they have the ability and the discipline to go to the negotiating table and translate whatever strength it is that they have into a strong negotiating position and then change that strength into an actual deal? i suspect if we don't see something -- obviously i don't think it will be an end deal at all before the iranian new deal in march -- but if there isn't any progress before this period, it's going to be quite questionable at what moment it can be achieved again, because then the political circus and
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both sides are going to start again and negotiations are going to once again become the victim of domestic policies. thanks so much. [applause] >> this doctor has agreed to be the discussant. he will be commenting on these presentations. he's a specialist with the congressional research service, an analyst with the u.s. congress, provides reports and briefing toss members of the corroboration and their staffs. it's t also served at various times on the majority staff of the house international relations committee and is the author of a number of books and articles and is very well known analyst here in washington, so kenneth, i give it to you. >> thank you very much. first let me say, all my comments are in my personal capacity rather than as a congressional person. i do have a few comments of my
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own, and then we'll get into a discussion. to treat his comments, i would like to say that sanctions on iran, afghanistan, and libya were all lifted within about one year of the fall of the regimes that were concerned there. i think if you look at the way sanctions work, and many of you seen my sanctions reported for congress, i'm sure. the administration and the executive branch still have quite a bit of discretion as far as lifting or easing sanctions should it come to that. i just to want say, the fundamental principle, just a few comments, mainly on effective sanctions, the fundamental principle of u.s. policy to iran is to compel the leadership to choose between forging an acceptable compromise on its nuclear program or essentially going
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break. we're now getting a real world test of that proposition. iran is on its way to going broke. its oil exports are now below 900,000 barrels a day, a drop of more than 60% of its 2011 average of about 2.5 million barrels per day. oman, which has seven or six million people, so maybe 10% of the population of iran, is exporting 700,000 barrels a day. if iran falls much further, which is likely in the next few months, it will be exporting less than any single gulf state other than bahrain. and if you add up the populations of all the gulf states, it is still only about maybe 40% or so from the population of iran. iran's production of oil has fallen to 2.6 million barrels a
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day, down from about -- it was at about a level of four million barrels per day previous years. there is virtually no new investment in iran's energy sector, except by iranian firms themselves. international firms have pulled out in droves. not only investors, but also suppliers of basic parts, equipment, and services due to not only u.s., but also european union, japanese, south korean, and other sanctions. the net effect is iran has become a marginal player in the international oil industry. and if the current trajectory continues, it is on its way to being nearly eliminated as a player in that industry. however, the effect of sanctions on iran's energy sector will make it hard for iran to return to its position in the industry if there is a deal, if there is a nuclear deal, and if the international
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community wants to then ease sanctions. the energy sanctions are taking a severe toll on their economy. everyone aware of the plummeting value. i helped to look more closely, try to look at their hard currency reserves, and it's my understanding that those reserves have fallen to about $70 billion from a level of about $105 billion at the he happened of 2011. trita talked about the proverbial cup of poison that i told them about in 1988. i also have some reference to that. he accepted that advice to end the war, to give up on the idea of war until victory against iraq, because all of his advisors basically went to him at once and say, victory is not achievable, this is too high a cost, we need to cut our losses. i believe we are getting close to the point where a critical
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mass of ayatollah khomeini's advisors are going to come to him and tell him that the sanctions are extracting too high a cost and there needs to be a compromise on the nuclear issue. still, they've shown themselves to be highly inflexible, even more so than ayatollah khomeini. to compare it to saddam, saddam hussein, when faced with international sanctions of this magnitude, accepted the u.n. oil for food program that allowed him to get back to presanctions level of oil exports of about 2.5 million barrels a day, although he did not control the revenue from those sales. they're now down to 900,000 barrels a day in exports. one could even argue they're less flexible than saddam hussein was when faced with a similar situation. and i see no evidence
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whatsoever that the great supreme leader cares one wit about the economic situation of his people, not one bit more than saddam hussein did. his economic managers seem to be doing their best, and they are trying hard to shield the poorest and least capable of iranian from the effective sanctions. but their strategies are likely to only go so far as these sanctions begin to shut iran's economic engine down. ultimately, the way out of this situation is for common to care about his population and take the way out that he's been offered and has not accepted to date. that said, having observed and studied his decision making over many years, i'm skeptical that we will see a change of heart from this font of wisdom and brilliance and light that he is any time soon.
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now, just a few points on hillary mann's presentation, i found it interesting that the comments that iran doesn't really care if assad falls, if that's true, why are they fight sog hard to keep him in power? i think there's a little bit of contradiction in that statement. i would also say they have sent revolutionary guard, forces to syria, the kudz forces would not be decisive, the force helping assad will not keep him in power. he is going to fall. it's just a matter of time. the kudz force are light infantry. assad does not need more light infantry. he needs heavy weapons. these heavy weapons are being degraded daily. once his heavy weapons are denuted, he is going to collapse. i think that's a given. i also would take issue the
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idea that somehow the region is shifting toward iran's position. that's very interesting to me, because they caling laid the regional governments would not cooperate with u.s. and international sanctions, but since then, they've been absolutely shocked at the degree to which the region has cooperated with the united states and with international sanctions. the countries and leaders they thought might stand with them have actually distanced themselves and abandoned iran entirely, and that's why the sanctions are working as well as they are. i thought the idea that somehow the regional governments are going to shed a tear if there were a confrontation between the united states and iran over the nuclear, the united states did strike. of course, very few people would advocate a strike, but if it is come to that, i really
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doubt that hardly anybody in the region would shed a single tear over it. i do not think you're going to see mass demonstrations in the region, you know, arguing that iran has been wronged, iran is the victim here, and any such strike would come after much more due diligence, much more talks, and then many more opportunities for iran to take a compromise. the idea that iran is somehow going to be hailed if there is a strike i think is quite -- i think it really contradicts what even a cursory read of the statements from the persian gulf leaders would say. so, in conclusion, i suppose i'm not overly optimistic, but i would say that the united states and its partners have offered iran a way out. i think these offers have been genuine, well thought out. i think they're not maximum
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malisse. they're not trying to change the regime. if the regime accepts the deal on the table, i believe there could be a deal, as mrs. clinton said, to a quick easing of sanctions, and i think the solution is for iran to find a way to accept the deal that is on offer. thank you. >> we have good questions here, but let me ask if anyone wants to comment on this, because the title is american and arab policy success and shortcomings. people emphasis u.s. policy. does anyone want to comment on what the countries think about american policy in the region in terms of its containment of iran? for example, it seems to me they're generally satisfied with defense cooperation and
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have accepted and cooperated on sanctions, but they have considerable concerns about war and considerable concerns about the consequences of iraq and what our policy is in syria, and certainly palestine. would anyone like to comment about that? >> i'll go first, if you don't mind. can everybody hear me? i think part of iran's failure is isolating itself from its neighbors, particular the g.c.c. states. under ahmadinejad from 2005, the islamic republic has done a lot to scare everybody in the region, so its nuclear pursuits, a range of sanctions. if you look at the policy before ahmadinejad, there was a tendency to seek some sort of cordial working relationship with the g.c.c. states, including saudi arabia,
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especially saudi arabia. for example, they really tried to ease some of the tension between iran and saudi arabia. he fled a much more con sill tarry policy. of course, the historic and ideological tension between the two sides never went away, but ahmadinejad has management to really exacerbate tensions with the g.c.c. states through his rhetoric, but really through his actions sag. if you look at the iranian policy in the last several years, especially since 2005, they have had a lot of failures. iran finds itself in the situation it is in because it has managed to drive the states into u.s. arms. >> can you hear me?
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the microphone is on. i think the critical issue, there's a tendency to put a lot of blame and importance on president ahmadinejad, but the critical strategic game change that happened in the past 10 years that i think sent shock waves through the g.c.c. and has really changed the geo politics and the geo economics was the u.s. invasion of iraq, and essentially the complete overhaul of the political order in iraq to become a shia-led a rain state. this is something that i think in particular our saudi friends have not even really begun to grapple with. it has changed fundamental politics, fundamental economics. it means that iran is no longer dependent on dubai. it has a huge, huge trading partner in iraq. it means not only iraq, but afghanistan. two years ago, members of congress thought that they could have legislation that would cripple iran because they would cut off iran's gasoline imports.
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well today iran is not only not dependent on exports, but exports that gasoline to afghanistan. so what iran has been able to do in the neighborhood i think is a show of both strength, but also a show of u.s. weakness. the show the united states doesn't really understand or even care about the basic balance of power politics that are nells in the region and which spur tremendous concern among our allies. >> can i comment? >> quickly, yes, because there are good questions. >> i'll just go very quickly. just very briefly, the last u.n. sanctions on iraq were want lifted until 2010. beyond that, comparing iraq and afghanistan kind of misses the point, because those are two states in which there was a regime change. you see there is a requirement
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for lifting the sanctions from the congressional side that goes well beyond just the nuclear issue. the issue at hand is not whether technically this could be resolve, the issue is what is the confidence on the other side that, when there is a promise to do so, that they have confidence that that promise can be executed in an effective manner. i think that confidence simply doesn't exist, and i think there's some reasons for it. last time they lost the u.s. senate on this, they lost 100-0678 that's want a particularly impressive record. when it comes to what was offered, sanctions relief was not on the table in these last three roineds of talks. they were not. just plainly stated by the u.s. negotiators. imagine if -- and to expect that immediately after the
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meeting when the principle of reciprocity was established, to immediately expect it to be put on pause, we're going to sidestep that i don't think is realistic, because i think that was mainly because of election politics here in the u.s. going forward, perhaps there will be a little bit more flexibility on all sides. but imagine if the iranians had accepted a proposal, which is shut down or ship out all the 20%, as well as the stockpile, but there was no sanctions relief offered at all. we would still have seen the european oil sanctions go forward. they would still have seen very negative effects on the economy, and i would think that the iranian people would be asking themselves, after all of this grand standing, why did iran give up so much and not get anything that had any positive impact on the zphe then they would ask themselves, so if they got nothing on the sanctions front, what did he get himself that caused him to accept the deal?
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actually potential put him in even more problematic position with his own population, because the population, already prone to conspiracy theories, would think there's been a deal between the regime and united states to save the regime, and it would exasperate a lot of problems they already have. >> we do have good questions. how much time do we have? >> i just want to say, a great many of the sanctions are linked to iran's placement on the u.s. list of terrorism, state sponsors of terrorism. the president has discretion to take iran off that list subject to a joint resolution of congress, blocking it, although that can be vetoed. and i don't believe any such effort has ever been vetoed. the president has decision immediately to lift a great many sanctions with his own authority by taking iran off the terrorism list. i'm want saying iran is close to getting that -- >> not anywhere close to
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getting that. >> i'm just pointing out the tremendous discretion the administration has to balance and to ease sanctions if it decides to. >> thank you, everyone. we have about 15 minutes. i have four questions here that deal with the same subject. so i can't ignore it. would the u.s. have such an emphasis on iran's nuclear policy if it were not for israel? are israel's concerns really security? i guess i should couple that with one that makes a reference to some israeli military and intelligence analysts who think that military strikes against iran are not a very good idea.
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so, when we were determining our policy toward iran, how much are the israeli concerns driving us? >> i don't think we can just say that the primary shape of u.s. policy is just a concern regarding israel, because the united states has very many different interests in the region, has many partners in the region. there are various implications regarding the weization of its program, including proliferation, could do real damage to the worldwide nuclear proliferation regime. it could lead to great tension and anxiety in the persian gulf, a strategically important region, and frankly, yes, if iran develops nuclear weapons, it would endanger their security. the biggest danger is not that the iranians would immediately
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launch their nuclear weapons at israel, they're too thoughtful and rational for that sort of behavior, but if you have two states with nuclear weapons, with no communications, there is a great chance that any sort of conflict between the two states, whether it's conventional or asimilar met are you cal could escalate into a nuclear exchange. that is very dangerous not only for israeli security, but for global security. so, in reality, iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability is a global issue. i think one of the u.s. successes has been to make sure that this is a tpwhrobal issue, that it's not just, you know, a matter of the israelis being worried. answering your question regarding viewpoints on israel, there's a variety of viewpoints.
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we've seen that in the last few months and years, where various figures have said that right now is not the time for military strike against iran, because the consequences would be quite possibly very negative, not just for u.s. security, but israeli security as well. so while a possible attack against iran remains, i don't think it's necessarily inevitable. it depends really on how negotiations proceed in the next few months and what kind of pressures the next administration faces regarding the military option. i want to answer that question in two different ways. one also relates to a point that ken made about there wouldn't be -- no one in the region would shed a tear if the united states attacked iran over its nonexistent weapons of mass destruction program. it's interesting to have these ideas on our own, but it's even
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more important to look at polls, which is really the one objective piece of evidence that we can analyze. and if you look at the most recent poll done in the middle east, mostly among sunni arab populations, it's very interesting. something like 62% of them think that iran is not just developing a nuclear energy program, but a nuclear weapons program, just about 62%, give or take. over 75% of them think that would be a good thing, think it would be good for iran to have a nuclear weapon. those are the people. but ken is talking about the governments, the governments, which we have learned the big lesson from the arab awakening is the governments matter now, but they may not matter as much tomorrow or next year. we have to take public opinion seriously. that is a very serious statistic. one of the reasons why it's there is, again, not because people in the region are pro-iranian or pro-shia, no,
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it's because what they see iran doing is standing up to the united states and israel, which gets to the other piece of this question. is what the united states is doing in terms of con strange iran's nuclear program there to benefit israel? if you look back at the history, iran started its nuclear program because the united states gave it to iran, gave it to iran under the shah, and when the united states gave iran its nuclear program, the reactor which is so often in the news that she research reactor could only process highly enriched uranium, only. the islamic republic, after the revolution, had to pay to get that reactor reconfigured to take only low-enriched uranium. the intent for the united states before it disagreed with iran's policy of defiance or independence, however you would characterize it, the united states was not only just fine with iran having a nuclear weapon, but probably fine with iran having a nuclear weapon
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since it provided all of these inputs, but helped it go along in that direction. now, is that just because the united states wanted to have its policemen? yes. but is it also because if the israelis feel constrained by an iranian nuclear program, that's a problem for the united states itself, it's not just that we want to protect what the israelis are do, it's a sense what the israelis are doing to help the united states to dominate the region. and this is the crux of the problem. the united states has thought for years to try to dominate the region. now, i have nothing against what's called dominance if it can work. i'm all for it. my children having a great economy here, having their college paid for if it can work. the problem that we have found in the middle east, likely found in asia vis-a-vis china, is it doesn't work. so if it doesn't work, our pursuit of this kind of dominance hurts us as we futilely try to pull it off.
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so yes, israel is pushing for this, but pushing on an open door. you go back to the 2006 war in lebanon. yes, it was an israeli-initiated war, but the united states of the full square behind it. now, could israel with u.s. support have pulled off the 2006 war in lebanon if iran had breakout capabilities? probably, but they would think twice, and that's the crux of the problem. >> well, let's go back to diplomacy. there's a question for ken. it is exactly what is the deal on our firm, our deal, is enrichment at any level on iranian soil an absolute nonstarter for the u.s.? is it something we will not accept? and then let me ask a follow-up
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for hillary. what do you suggest as concrete steps that we can take to resolve these problems with iran, diplomatically? >> do you want me to go first? >> yes. >> what has been discussed in the three rounds concerns 20% enriched uranium as a confidence-building measure. what has been discussed in the rounds that took place over the spring and summer were -- basically an interim agreement, where iran would suspend and ship out existing stockpiles of 20% enriched uranium. the united states fell back from an earlier position of -- and this is in the u.n. resolutions, but the u.s. and its partners drew back from it of demanding that all enrichment be ceased. now, the u.s. hasn't
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necessarily dropped that as an ultimate goal, but in terms of an interim agreement, what was discussed was 20% enriched uranium. >> it's a very important question, because a lot of times we argue back and forth, but what are the concrete steps that can be taken? there are a few. the first is, one of the rumors about when or if talks are commenced after obama presumably is re-elected, what would be on the agenda? the united states is pushing to have that agenda be focused only on the nuclear issue, only on the nuclear issue. that's a mistake. because as ken rightly pointed out, iran is listed here as a state sponsor of terrorism. there are all sorts of human rights and other concerns, whatever iran would give occupant nuclear issue, yes, there may be a deal if we can accept iran's right to enrich uranium on its own territory, but that deal is going to be fragile if we continue to press iran on all of these other
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issues, and there's no accommodation, there's no strategic agreement, no strategic understanding on the range of issues. so the agenda must be broad, the agenda must address the range of issues that bedevil the u.s.-iranian relationship. with that, there has to be a demonstration of u.s. seriousness. now, we often fall back on our grievances, the concerns, real and imagined, that we have with the islamic republic, and some of them are very real. i'm not manipulate mizing it. but we fall book that as an excuse not to deal with this country strategically. as we dealt with china, when we needed to, because it was in our interests. here, the issue with iran is that in it's our interest to have a better relationship with this country. it's in our interest. what they did to us in the past should be in the past. we need to deal with them in terms of our interests. in that regard, we should take a lesson from what president nixon and kissinger did with china, and that is demonstrate
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in two concrete ways. one, this is what nixon and kissinger did with china. they stepped down from the intelligence operations we had with china. they told the c.i.a. to stop what they were doing in tibia tote undermine the people's republic of china, stop it. that's number one. we have spent nearly half a billion dollars in intelligence operations to undermine the islamic republic. we need to stop that, as we did with china. the sect thing we did with china, we put a moratorium on the constant persist pent patrols of the seventh fleet right off china's shore. we can do something also to demonstrate that the fifth fleet is there to protect american interests, not to harass and undermine the iranian interests. those are two concrete things we can do in conjunction with having a serious, broad agenda for strategic realignment with the united states and the islamic republic of iran. that's the formula that works with china, and that should be at least tried with the islamic
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republic of iran. >> if we widen the negotiations to cover more topics, how do we deal with the diminishing prospects for a two-state israeli solution, and how do we construct something that does not lead g.c.c. states to think that their interests in the gulf are being sacrificed? >> i think if we reach a deal with iran, doesn't mean that the g.c.c. states should feel that the united states is turning their back on them. i don't think the united states necessarily is looking for a final deal with the islamic republic in which we solve all our differences with the regime in tehran, and it shouldn't look for that. i agree that, yes, we should have a strategic relationship with iran, that iran is a
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country we should work with, but we have to make a distinction between iran as a country and the islamic republic as a political system, which is not democratically elected, which has the worst human rights abuses in the world, which supports terrorism, which is pursuing a nuclear weapons program contrary to international norms and laws. so when the u.s. is negativing with iran, i think we should keep that in mind. and i don't think the united states officially wants to implode the iranian government or have the iranian government collapse or have the iranian government capitulate. i think our goals are pretty well combined. we want iran to stop enriching uranium to a higher degree that can be used for a nuclear weapon, period. i think that's very achievable. part of the problem is, their
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supreme leader is inflexible. and there are indications that his advisors, including within the revolutionary guard, are not happy with him. he's been criticized even publicly for his decisions and style of rule. when we look at the islamic republic, this is not different from other regimes that have been overthrown in the middle east. it is corrupt. it denies people basic rights, social, political, and economic, discriminated against half the population, and is actually making life much more difficult for them. these are things that matter. these are things that create success satisfaction among iranians for the regime. so when they talk about the a rain spring as benefiting it, this is delusional. this is not a correct read of the situation.
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he's relying on close advisors who also have a very incorrect view of the world. so going forward, negotiations shouldn't be about defusing this crisis that, frankly, the islamic republic had put its people in. >> i think that after the arab spring, it's one thing to say that all of the relationships with governments in the region in which you don't have the type of order that is desired. it's one thing to say all of them cannot change right away and there's going to be one relationships that are going to still limp for a while before they get changed, but i think in the aftermath of the a rain spring, to start new relationships, based on just purely security considerations with no considerations of other factors, the same factors that have brought us situations
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elsewhere, i think it would be a mistake. perhaps more importantly, mistake or no mistake, i don't see any desire on the u.s. side or on the iranian side for having a partnership between the two sides. at best, they're looking for some sort of a rivalry in which they can compete without ending up in a war. the iranians don't view the u.s.'s presence in the region as legitimate and ultimately they believe there's an expiration date for the u.s.'s stay in the region. as a result, they don't want to invest in that. they want to put their eggs there. the u.s., for its own good reasons, view that the islamic republic has an expiration date and doesn't want to have that same type of an investment. what is achievable, however, is to take several significant steps back from the brink of the abyss of a military confrontation. that is highly achieveable. frankly, there's a desire on both sides to achieve that. i think it is an exaggerated
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fear amongst other nations in the region, perhaps even a little bit outside of the region, that have this fear thinking that thleds be some sort of a return to the u.s. relationship with the shah, in which iran would gain that type of a strategic significance, at the expense of other allies of the united states. i don't see any chance of that happening in the short or even in the medium term, and i don't see any chance of that happening unless there's significant changes in iran. and again, i don't see a desire on the u.s. or on the iranian side for that type of relationship. there is a desire for a different type of competition, a different type of rivalry, but not for that type of a partnership. >> i just have two important points to make. sun is what the united states desires or what is necessary is different. it is necessary for the united states to have a strategic realignment with the islamic republic of iran, like it was
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necessary to do so with china. and how it affects our allies in the middle east is critically important to look at the parallels. if i look at the parallels with china and take taiwan, for example, japan's economic and political development experienced its most successful -- its biggest success after the united states went to china, after nixon and kissinger went to bay jange. japan benefited benefited enormously, as others would benefit enormously from a more productive, less tense, less mill tar is particular environment in the region. then if you compare it to even taiwan, that issue was brabblingted between the two countries, between china and the united states. it was bracketed. you could similarly have something between the united states and iran over israel and the palestinian issue that is bracketed. i must come back to this other issue. this is in our strategic interest to come to terms with the islamic republic of iran, just like china. keep in mind, when mao was in charge, when nixon went to see
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mao, he had just presided over the killing of three million chinese. they didn't have a nuclear energy program, they tested nuclear weapons. the issue here is, what is in the u.s. national interest, not whether we think iranian government officials are good or bad, but even there, this is another critical challenge for the united states. as minor populations become more empowered in each of their countries they are not going vote for or support a secular democratic u.s. model for their government. they're not going to do it. they're not going to accept or lobby for a complete copy of the islamic republic of iran, but they are going to try to fight just as hard as iranians are today to have a governing system that is theirs, that they can evolve and change over time, that intergrates both islamic principles and republican politics. rep politics does not just mean our ideal or myth of one man, one vote. that means the system where people have competitive
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politics. there's real participation, and there's a real say. it's not perfect in the islamic republic of iran, but it's theirs, and it's up to them to evolve t. that's the challenge for the united states, not just in iran, but our challenge in egypt and all over the middle east. we need to come to terms with it. >> well, we have not exhausted the topic, but beverage exhausted our time. there's another panel that needs to set up. thank you to each of you. i think it was excellent. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] >> now through election day, watch our coverage of the presidential candidates, plus debates from key house, senate, and governor's races from around the country. next, "q&a." and live at 7:00 a.m., your calls and comments on "washington journal."
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>> do you support an increase in the presence of the national guard at the u.s.-mexico border in light of this drug violence? >> this is a very complex issue, though in many respects, it takes cooperation between the united states and mexico. as you know, i'm sure there was an agreement back in 2008, i believe it was, between the united states and mexico, where we helped with technical support and boats and aircraft, to help with the war on drugs and the cartels in mexico. this is something that we have to get along, we continue to have to. but i want to say this, because we're stuck in these stereotypes in this state. el paso, and if the people of texas don't know this, look it up. el paso is the safest city in america for a city its size. we have safe cities and communities all along our border. this is a great economic engine for our state. these are great communities. >> thank you. >> i've already stated, i think we should triple the u.s.
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border patrol, because we've got to get serious and solve the problem of securing the border. you know, this question you raise is a very important question. mexico is a great and mighty nation, and it is tragic what is happening in mexico. it is tragic, the violence. you know, i was visiting with a mexican businessman sometime ago who described to me how he received from the drug lords a letter that detailed where every one of his grand kids had been for the past week, minute by minute. it is tragic what's happening in mexico. i think the united states should work cooperatively with mexico, to help the mexican government solve this problem, stop the violence, and stop the drug lords that are terrorize sog many innocent citizens. >> the texas senate seat held by kay bailey hutchison is one of the key house and senate races you can follow on c-span, c-span radio, and at c-span.org/campaign2012. >> you consider that, you know, a while ago, no one would ever
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agree to carry around a tracking device, right, but now we all carry around cell phones, which you can inherently track. and no one would ever have posted, you know, let anyone read their email, but right now a lot of us use gmail, and it's stored on a server at google. it's interesting we as a society have given our information out. >> we were looking into cyberand cybersecurity and cyberwar. the pentagon had declared cyberspace the environment of people and machines and networks as a new domain of war, and yet we realized that maybe one in 1,000 people really understood what cyberspace was and the degree and depth of the vulnerabilities. what we're trying to do in the zero days series is to take pieces of it and explain the fundamentals and the basic idea is frmb my mom and dad to
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congress and people around the country can understand, and so maybe start the process of coming up with ways to defend cyberspace better. >> cyberspace vulnerabilities, tonight at 8:00 eastern on "the communicators" on c-span2. >> this week on "q&a," filmmaker heidi ewing discusses detropia, the documentary she co-directed with rachel grady. segments of the film contain language which may be offensive. >> heidi ewing, at what point did you decide to do a documentary on detroit? >> well, around -- i'm originally from the area. i was born and raised in the
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detroit area, so there was definitely a personal connection there. i never considered making a film in detroit or a film with any personal ties to myself whatsoever. but my co-director and i started talking about the city of detroit in late 2008, because i would return home, and things really seemed to be getting worse and worse. it was already bad when i grew up there in the 1980's. so, to see the crises sort of spread out further and further into the suburbs, and a lot of people i knew were leaving, >> we started discussing what was the future of this place. in october of 2009 i came with my crew for three days just as an experiment and film in the city just as an outsider. talked to a few people. absolutely riveretted by the people and the plays. i thought there's definitely a movie here. we need to make a film in detroit. >> when impacted, i read your father had a

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CSPAN October 29, 2012 3:30am-6:00am EDT

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